NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Friday night at midnight marks the 5th anniversary an arsonist killed 2 people in a series of fires in Northampton. 22News spoke with different Hampshire County residents about what they remember about the tragedy 5 years ago.
In 2009, more than a dozen fires burned throughout the night in Northampton. “That 5 years went by really fast and I still feel bad for those people,” says Karen Niedzielski of Easthampton, who remembers the day. “It was sad and it was a shock. A lot of people were affected by it.
Anthony Baye admitted to setting those 15 fires in the city. 26 Union Street is now an empty lot because of the arson spree, and 67 Hawley Street was re-built. Baye also admitted starting 12 other fires near his Hawley Street home in Ward 3 back in 2007.
Baye is now serving 20 years in prison. He plead guilty to 48 charges including 2 counts of manslaughter. A house fire on Fair St. killed 81-year-old Paul Yeskie Sr. and his son, 39-year-old Paul Yeskie Jr.
Residents told 22News they were stunned someone attacked their city.
“Northampton does tend to be pretty safe and tranquil most of the time for the most part,” Daniel Burke of Northampton told 22News. “I think I realized that that kind of thing can happen any place.”
Jesse Shotland of Northampton told 22News one of the fires torched his mother’s car. “We haven’t talked about it since it happened, but I was thinking about it a couple of weeks ago,” says Shotland. “In reality, it could have been extremely traumatic.”
Shotland told 22News he feels lucky he didn’t lose his mother that night, and sympathizes with other families.